Franklin focusing on fundamentals as Red Devils come to town

Franklin wide receiver Noah Kremer eludes Oakwood defensive back Connor Morris and runs for a touchdown during their game at Atrium Stadium in Franklin on Oct. 21. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD
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Franklin wide receiver Noah Kremer eludes Oakwood defensive back Connor Morris and runs for a touchdown during their game at Atrium Stadium in Franklin on Oct. 21. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Brad Childers highlights the same four main objectives for his Franklin High School football team every week.

None of that changes as the postseason begins: The Wildcats will continue to focus on the things that got them to a Division III, Region 12 top seed and first undefeated regular season since 1989.

Franklin (10-0) hosts Tippecanoe (7-3) on Saturday night in what will be just the program’s third-ever home playoff game. The Red Devils are making their 12th straight postseason appearance.

“Our kids have good confidence, but we continue to ask them to be humble,” Childers said. “We don’t talk about much more than executing at a high level. Honestly, even though we’re 10-0, it still comes back to what we’ve talked about all along — self-discipline, blocking, securing the football and tackling. We’ve put our kids in a position to do those things and execute well, and I truly believe if we do those four objectives well and play to our potential, we have the opportunity to play in Week 12.”

Of those four points of emphasis, self-discipline might be the most important this week, Childers said.

Tippecanoe brings a Wing-T offense with multiple weapons, led by fullback Cole Barhorst, who has 1,132 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing. Halfbacks Quenten Williams (518 yards rushing) and Nyles Anderson (561 yards rushing) add to the potent ground game, and quarterback Aaron Hughes (510 yards on 39 of 65 passing) is efficient when needed to move the ball through the air.

The Wildcats have been much better against the run than the pass this season, but they won’t be able to key on any one player and must be ready for jet sweeps, traps and whatever else Tipp throws at them.

“They are not complicated, but they are good at what they do,” Childers said. “That’s why self-discipline is so important when we have a team with multiple threats. For our guys, it’s do your job and don’t try to do anything more. If they get a good run, line up and be better at the next one. They will try to control the ball and use some clock, so we have to take care of our assignments, tackle well and try to get them in second-and-long, third-and-long situations and make them uncomfortable.”

Red Devils coach Joel Derge said with Franklin’s ability to put up a lot of points, it will be important for his offense to get something going early.

Defensively, Tippecanoe looks to try to contain standout athlete Ryan Montgomery but also is aware of the breadth of talent at other spots as well. The Red Devils play a 50 defense, and free safety Cade Rogers leads the Greater Western Ohio Conference with 132 tackles.

“Their offense can score at any time,” Derge said. “They have a lot of explosive players, so we have to make sure we make them work for everything they do. It’s important to keep everything in front of us and not let big plays happen. Then on the other side, we have to control the ball and work our time of possession to keep the ball out of their hands.”

Childers said Brookville tried to do the same thing last week in a 45-21 win for the Wildcats, but that doesn’t mean anything this week as Tippecanoe brings its own unique set of challenges.

“They are 7-3, but like us, they want to be 1-0 (in the postseason) at the end of Saturday,” Childers said. “They are very physical up front, they come off the ball and stay on you ’til the whistle and create good running lanes for their backs. We’ve had a good week of practice, which started with game-planning on Sunday. There is a lot of excitement around our program right now, and hopefully, we will be back this Sunday getting ready for another game.”

The Franklin-Tippecanoe winner will meet either St. Marys Memorial or Belmont next Saturday at a neutral site.

Saturday’s game

What: Division III, Region 12 quarterfinal, Tippecanoe (7-3) at Franklin (10-0), 7 p.m.

Where: Veterans Memorial Field at Atrium Stadium, 301 E. Sixth St., Franklin

Tippecanoe playoff history: 6-12 record in 12 appearances (2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)

Franklin playoff history: 4-9 record in nine appearances (1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1993, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013)